In what the point of his theory lay, Levin did not understand,
because he did not take the trouble to understand. He saw that
Metrov, like other people, in spite of his own article, in which
he had attacked the current theory of political economy, looked
at the position of the Russian peasant simply from the point of
view of capital, wages, and rent. He would indeed have been
obliged to admit that in the eastern--much the larger--part of
Russia rent was as yet nil, that for nine-tenths of the eighty
millions of the Russian peasants wages took the form simply of
food provided for themselves, and that capital does not so far
exist except in the form of the most primitive tools. Yet it was
only from that point of view that he considered every laborer,
though in many points he differed from the economists and had his
own theory of the wage-fund, which he expounded to Levin.
Levin listened reluctantly, and at first made objections. He
would have liked to interrupt Metrov, to explain his own thought,
which in his opinion would have rendered further exposition of
Metrov's theories superfluous. But later on, feeling convinced
that they looked at the matter so differently, that they could
never understand one another, he did not even oppose his
statements, but simply listened. Although what Metrov was saying
was by now utterly devoid of interest for him, he yet experienced
a certain satisfaction in listening to him. It flattered his
vanity that such a learned man should explain his ideas to him so
eagerly, with such intensity and confidence in Levin's
understanding of the subject, sometimes with a mere hint
referring him to a whole aspect of the subject. He put this down
to his own credit, unaware that Metrov, who had already discussed
his theory over and over again with all his intimate friends,
talked of it with special eagerness to every new person, and in
general was eager to talk to anyone of any subject that
interested him, even if still obscure to himself.
"We are late though," said Katavasov, looking at his watch
directly Metrov had finished his discourse.
"Yes, there's a meeting of the Society of Amateurs today in
commemoration of the jubilee of Svintitch," said Katavasov in
answer to Levin's inquiry. "Pyotr Ivanovitch and I were going.
I've promised to deliver an address on his labors in zoology.
Come along with us, it's very interesting."